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Bantry Bay Apartment

Apartment Bantry Bay

Line of vision
A punctuated architectural mass provokes space and summons standout sea views

story Natalie Boruvka photos Angie Lázaro

'Let me see a clear view of the Atlantic as I walk in.'
This emphatic statement challenged architectural firm Jacobs Parker to transcend both the physical and conceptual boundaries of this 1950s Bantry Bay apartment. Restricted to the existing location of the front door (a non-negotiable by the body corporate) and presented with the best views by a corner window on the opposite end instigated a dramatic diagonal connect-the-dot trajectory across the floor plan. In effect, the static box-like layout of the traditionally defined apartment explodes into a spatial solution that – besides offering greater flexibility – is infinitely more engaging. 'Our intention was the celebration of the wall as a recognised mass within the apartment which delineates the public from the private spaces,' explains partner Waheed Parker. Projecting about two-thirds of the way into the apartment, the diagonal establishes a logical and hierarchical arrangement of space that creates neat little packages of practical space upfront used to house the geyser, bicycle closet and laundry.

By thwarting connection to the ceiling and to any other walls, a feature all small spaces aspire to is achieved: the illusion of space. 'Because the walls don’t touch the ceiling,' explains Faizel Jacobs (the second half of the partnership), 'there is always the awareness of space beyond so the observer never feels confined to a cellular space or room.' Indeed, the entire apartment feels like one open space that, though in part screened, presents a uniform experience of views, light and space. The bedroom, for example – despite being separated from the living room by 
timber sliding screens – offers the opportunity of an afternoon nap accompanied by sea views through louvres that can be opened, even if the screens are slid shut.

Apartment Bantry Bay lounge
ABOVE LEFT: Embracing an Atlantic Ocean horizon, the dining area is practically an outdoor space, the sense of which further liberates the compact foundation of the apartment.

ABOVE RIGHT: Wishing to intensify just 106 square metres of floor plan, architectural practice Jacobs Parker reworked the conventional layout of this 1950s Bantry Bay apartment into a space for multiple purposes. An independent interior structure housing the bedroom and en suite bathroom penetrates into the apartment at a diagonal, propelling views to the ocean and allowing for a spacious residual open-plan living area. The free structure is, in itself, a dynamically integrated feature articulated by gauged-out chambers, carved crevices, thickset timbers and narrow, angled perspectives.

A second request by the owner – this time a call for the integration of a Cape Dutch feel – inadvertently aided the architects in their quest to push the design envelope in employing a fitting spatial organisation. Not wishing to present a lacklustre literal interpretation of a stylistic theme, they focused instead on areas of design philosophy. The projecting wall was thickened… not for the purpose of buffering a harsh climate (as is the case in traditional Cape Dutch architecture) but with the view of exploiting the resultant space. So it has an inner the depth 
of which craftily accommodates a guest toilet, shower and cupboards for the 
bedroom and living area.

Apartment Bantry Bay feature
ABOVE LEFT: The request for immediate, clear sea views from the point of entry was achieved through a diagonal trajectory that runs from the front door through to the opposite corner window. The handcrafted timber detailing and metalwork was inspired by the Cape Dutch vernacular.

ABOVE MIDDLE: What was once a restricted living area with an enclosed balcony and a kitchen that left virtually no room for an adequate dining area, the reorganisation has rendered an integrated solution in which the three primary areas are appropriately contained.

On its surface, the wall expresses an honest visible construction that is subtly characteristic of the Cape Dutch vernacular and in keeping with the architect’s aim to address it as a clearly functional component. This is especially evident in the fine timber tongue-and-groove craftsmanship, exposed bolts and stable latch closers. Complying with the owner’s wish, veneers were avoided. Handcrafted and finished using solid Iroko shelves and doors that are 44mm and 22mm thick respectively… and, following in this vein, all the metal components were custom-designed and manufactured. The robust black finish was achieved by heating the metal at high temperature, followed by immersion in diesel oil. A final tribute to the interpretation of customary finishes in Cape Dutch structures is the hand-applied and polished wall finish, wherein the trowel marks reflect intentionally the evidence of its making.

In its finality, what the design deftly illustrates is the importance Jacobs Parker places on interpreting and fulfilling every client’s brief within the context of the site. Says Waheed: 'In no way could this philosophy be put to greater test than 
to remodel an existing apartment in a complex where each flat is identical to 
the next.'   

Jacobs Parker Architecture Interior Design

Apartment Bantry Bay bedroom

ABOVE: The juxtaposition of open and closed and the playing off of negative and positive spaces is further explored in the bedroom and en suite bathroom, where walls demarcate rather than fully enclose. Suspended ceilings appear to float and narrow permeations in the walls offer curious vignettes from the bedroom through to the entrance hall, accentuating a consistent dialogue between the apartment’s contained spaces.

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